Director: Jeffrey Nachmanoff
Writers:Jeffrey Nachmanoff (screenplay); Steve Martin
Starrting: Don Cheadle (Samir Horn), Guy Pearce (Roy Clayton), Saïd Taghmaoui (Omar), Archie Panjabi (Chandra Dawkin), Jeff Daniels (Carter)
Mainstream Hollywood has a major problem. In its eagerness to please the audience, it actually leaves them dissatisfied. This is what bugs the Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce starrer 'Traitor.' What could have been a gripping tale of our time, the story of global terrorism, told in the fashion of a nail-biting thriller, a la 'The Departed,' loses all its sting when director (also the story and screenplay writer) goes all the way out to make our Sudan-born and America-raised Muslim protagonist Samir Horn a hero, literally and figuratively, and prove to us that all Muslims are not bad, after all, and, hear, hear, Uncle Sam knows this.
The story begins in Sudan, 1978, when a young Samir sees his father go up in smoke after a bomb blast. Now, in Yemen, he sells explosives to whoever may be interested. He is caught by the Yemeni police and is put into jail. Here, he meets a terrorist, Omar, with whom he escapes to France, then to Canada and US, making bombs and blowing up buildings. You feel like you are watching a James Bond or a Bourne movie, only that Don Cheadle makes things more convincing. So, we know how the Muslim population all over the world are brainwashed into anti-American tactics.
Yes. Cheadle's Horn feels guilty about killing people. But there are not real attempt to understand how global terrorism works, only that there are some people who are using unsuspecting youths.
Then comes the twist. It's not really a twist. Somehow, you know this all along. Samir may be a devout Muslim, but he is not a terrorist. He's the 'rat,' remember 'The Departed.' Then his source in the FBI is killed. 'The Departed' again. Now, what would Samir do? Remain a terrorist or listen to his conscience?
Guy Pearce's return to mainstream after a long time is a sort of waste. The talented actor (remember 'Memento') has nothing much to do as a FBI agent other that travelling the world in the trail of Samir and finally act as an agent to prove Samir's heroism.
It may sound silly, but the film is not actually very bad, especially when you do not have much expectation from Hollywood. At least, it keeps you engrossed. Other thing that works for the film its minimalist approach. A far cry from summer blockbusters, the film keeps its profile as low as possible. And with a competent actor like Don Cheadle in the lead, you do not complain as long as the film is running.
Rating *** out of *****
P. S. Two years ago, if someone told you that the next American president would be a half-black, half-American with a Muslim name, you would think this as a improbable proposition. Now, Barack Obama wins the election, and in a moment, everything has changed. Now, everything is possible. Even the idea of a raceless world!
P. S. 2. I may be biased about the film. Because I simply adore Don Cheadle. Even in silly movies like the Ocean's trilogy.